Back of the Book — May 8, 2021


Okay, here's the Web page for this radio program. We did spend a lot of time talking about the end of the Earth, and not from any anthropogenic hijinks, either. We also talked about other things, some of which you can already see below. I plan to update this Web page very soon, so check back for the updates.

You can now listen to this program on the official WBAI Archive.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings?

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee on this Web site. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, it will probably be held as a teleconference meeting, as the 16 previous public meetings were because of the pandemic.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

The LSB again spent quite a bit of time on a motion that became two motions, sort of, regarding something I can't talk about on the air or even on this Web site, for now. But you'll hear about it on the air at some point, just not from me - until later. Have you visited the official Pacifica Web site lately? Ahem.

Before the meeting I had put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

Some years ago the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. We can no longer tell if the stream is working without testing every possible stream. Good luck.

WBAI is archiving the programs! WBAI has permanently switched to yet another new archive Web page! This one is more baffling than the previous one. For some time I was unable to post archive blurbs, then I could, and then I couldn't again. You can take a look at it and see if I've been able to post anything on it lately. There are still some limitations, but I am assured that I can plug in the archive blurbs that were lost in the latest upgrade.

This is a link to the latest version of the official WBAI archive. The archiving software appears to have been at least partially fixed. To get to the archive of this program you can use the usual method: you'll have to click on the drop-down menu, which says Display, and find Back of the Book on that menu. We're pretty early in the list, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Once you find the program name click GO and you'll see only this Back of the Book program. Management has fixed some problems that we'd been having with the archives.

For programs before March 23, 2019, we're all out of luck. The changes that took place once WBAI Management took control of the WBAI archives seems to have wiped out all access to anything before that date in March. You'll have to click on the same drop-down menu as above, which says Display, and find Specify Date, it's the second choice from the top. You are then given a little pop-up calendar and you can choose the date of the program there. Then click GO and you'll see a list of programs that aired on that date. For those previous programs you can get the audio, but nothing else, since I can't post anything to those pages anymore. Yeah, it looks like they'll have some alternating program's name prominently there, but if you have the right date it'll be our program. Good luck.

Since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI he's not alternating with us on the air. As of November 2020, Back of the Book airs weekly.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

A rough estimation of Pangea Ultima
Earth Map in c. 250,000,000 Years

This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


From the poem The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot.

We talked about the ultimate fate of the Earth. Here's a summary:

Gliese 710 is an orange 0.6 solar mass star. As of research done in December 2020, this small star will come within about 0.221 light-years (14,000 astronomical units) of the Sun, this is about 20 times closer than the current distance of Proxima Centauri, and the approach could be even closer. This should happen in about 1.281 million years. At that distance Gliese 710's brightness would be equal to the brightest planets. It's being estimated that the star would then have an apparent visual magnitude of about -2.7, which is brighter than the planet Mars is at opposition. The star's proper motion will peak around one arcminute per year, which would make its movement in the sky noticeable over a human lifespan. Gliese 710 will traverse the outer Oort cloud, 100,000 Astronomical Units (AU) and reach the outskirts of the inner Oort cloud at closest approach. This assumes that the Oort cloud forms a spheroid around the Sun. Gliese 710 will then go crashing through the Oort Cloud for about 86,00 AU. Objects in the Oort Cloud will be disturbed by this. The Earth will stand a pretty good chance of getting hit with some of those objects which are going to be dislodged from the Oort Cloud. That won't destroy the Earth, but it will do harm to living things on the planet, including any humans who are still alive by then.

And then, in a time from of 500,000,000 to 1 billion years from now the Sun will heat up to the point where the Earth's atmosphere will get thinned out a great deal and much of it will be blown off into outer space, much as is believed to have happened with the planet Mars long ago, and the heat and lower air pressure will allow all of the surface water on the Earth to evaporate. At this point human life on Earth will be over. Still, the planet itself will endure as a hot, dead rock. Some scientists think that this will take significantly longer to happen.

The Sun as a Red Giant star very close to the Earth. Image by Fsgregs, I have cropped and resized it. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Red Giant Sun and Lifeless Earth
image credit: Fsgregs

We all know about the Sun ageing and eventually using up its hydrogen fuel in about five billion years from now. The Sun will then start burning helium and will expand into a red giant star. It is universally acknowledged that by this time all life on Earth will have long since gone extinct. Exactly what will happen to the hot rock Earth when the Sun expands into a red giant star is not precisely known. It's possible that the Sun's photosphere, the part we see with the naked eye, will expand into the Earth's orbit. In that case much of the planet will melt, and the friction of the Earth with the photosphere would cause the Earth's orbit to decay, and the Earth would fall into the Sun and melt away and be distributed among the contents of the Sun, which will definitely have already included the planets Mercury and Venus. There is the possibility that the Sun will not expand as far as the Earth's orbit. In that case the Earth will be a scorched mess with a lot of its surface melted.

So far this is stuff I've known about for quite some time. And then I read an answer to a question in the Ask Astro column of the April 2021, issue of Astronomy magazine. The question was about the ultimate fate of the Earth. The answer came from Matt Caplan who's an Assistant Professor of Physics at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Referring to the time after the above referenced red giant phase of the Sun he said, If Earth manages to survive the Sun's giant phase, it will find itself orbiting a hot white dwarf barely larger than our planet. For eons, the Earth will continue to orbit the Sun. But, eventually, when the Sun cools to a black dwarf, Earth's orbit will decay due to the emission of gravitational waves. Over a trillion trillion years our once-blue planet will spiral into the dead Sun — a grand finale as the solar system goes dark forever. Professor Caplan also raised the possibility that before such a thing happened the Solar System might be destabilized by another star or black hole coming close to the Solar System and moving the planets around, and maybe even ejecting the sad planet Earth from the Solar System entirely where it would drift through interstellar space as a rogue planet. I compared the galaxy to a large billiard table where things are constantly colliding, from a gravitational point of view.

So there was my little talk on the ultimate fate of the Earth, with the new information supplied by Professor Caplan topping it off. I was surprised about gravitational waves causing the Earth's orbit to decay like that. I had not considered the extremely far future when that very tiny amount of gravitational wave radiation would blow off the orbital inertia of the planet, or what's left of it. I noted that scientists have been able to detect as very faint phenomena the collisions of black holes in the universe by the detected gravitational waves that were generated by these titanic events. Truly a tremendous amount of time has to pass for something as feeble as the Earth's orbit to give off enough gravitational wave emissions to affect that orbit at all. What a place the Earth is going to ultimately turn into. And some people want to live forever!

A VHS cartridge
A VHS Cartridge

On this program we described a cautionary tale about a woman named Caron McBride who had gotten married and wanted to change her name on her Texas driver's license from her maiden name to her married name. That's when she found out that she was wanted on a felony embezzlement warrant. This was quite the surprise to her.

It turns out that she had been charged with this crime in Oklahoma in the year 2000. It was alleged that she had borrowed a VHS video tape of the sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch in 1999, and had never returned it. The VHS tape had been rented from a store named Movie Place in Norman, Oklahoma. Movie Place went out of business in 2008.

Ms. McBride is quoted as saying, I had lived with a young man, this was over 20 years ago, he had two kids, daughters that were 8, 10 or 11 years old, and I'm thinking he went and got it and didn't take it back or something. I have never watched that show in my entire life, just not my cup of tea. She said that she had never watched it at all and had not tried to deceive anyone about it.

So she had this outstanding felony warrant waiting for her for 22 years!

The local district attorney in Oklahoma dismissed the case last week after reviewing it.

Ms. McBride said that she had lost multiple jobs over the past 20 years for unexplained reasons. Well, maybe they looked her up and found that she had an outstanding felony warrant, and didn't look past that, and fired her. She will now have to sue the state of Oklahoma to clear her record. you have to watch out for things like that, but it's very hard to do. Hell, the tape could even have been returned but a clerk could have forgotten to enter that fact into the store's records. And if she was fired for that felony warrant it's interesting that no employer ever informed her that it existed.

Imagine the sorrows that could have befallen her had she been stopped for a traffic violation and had her name run through the system by the police. All they'd have seen would have been an outstanding felony warrant. People have been killed by cops who seem to think that they have a right to mistreat anyone they find with an outstanding warrant.

We noted that WBAI producer Mary Ann Miller has died of Covid-19 and pneumonia.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

One open list that no longer exists was the WBAI specific Goodlight Web based message board. It was sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as the bleepin' blue board, owing to the blue background that was used on its Web pages. This one had many people posting anonymously and there was also an ancillary WBAI people board that was just totally out of hand.

In June 2012, I ended up having to salvage the bleepin' blue board, and so I was the moderator on it for its last seven years, until it got too expensive.

Sometimes we used to have live interaction with people posting on the Goodlight Board during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Saturday Morning With the Radio On used to alternate with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

There used to be a number of mailing lists related to Pacifica and WBAI. Unfortunately, they were all located on Yahoo! Groups. When Yahoo! Groups was totally shut down in December 2020, all of those mailing lists ceased to exist. One year earlier their file sections and archives of E-mails, had been excised leaving only the ability to send E-mails back and forth among the members. Now it's all gone. Older Back of the Book program Web pages tell a little more about those lists.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

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